Thursday, September 21, 2023

MTG, crooked employer doesn't allow lunch, Barbra Streisand, and more

Please check out Stan's "Talking the harm of ROLLING STONE's sexism and racism" where he speaks with C.I. about ROLLING STONE.  C.I. goes deep into the history. You really want to read this.

Yesterday, I participated in a group post:

  • Thank you to Ann, Betty, Cedric and Wally for letting me participate.  I don't plan on horning in on their group posts and didn't last night.  But we were eating and Betty started making jokes about Marjorie Taylor Greene and then Wally and I joined in and then Wally said, "Hold on, this is a post."  He called Cedric and Ann and I got up to leave so they could work but Betty said, "No, no, no, you're a part of this too."  So thank you to the four of them for letting me write with them.  Best time I've had writing in months.  A lot of laughs.  We really edited that down, by the way.  Ann, especially, has a wicked sense of humor and had me laughing at some of the things she came up with even though she knew that they couldn't make it into what went up.  They were hilarious though.

    Okay, Marjorie.   MEAAW notes:

    On September 20, former President Donald Trump made an appearance at Treehouse Pub & Eatery in Bettendorf, Iowa, and was swarmed by a crowd, as he handed out pizzas to everyone, as reported by Fox News.

    Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to thank Trump for the pizzas, while she also thanked him for fighting to "save America."

    She's so ridiculous.  But, have you noticed how manly she looks in some photos.  When I saw a smaller photo of the one MEAAW uses, I thought she could be George Washington.  In the bigger picture, she's just a scary looking man.  

    Now for Darlene.  I read your e-mail.  Not sure why you thought I'd have the answer.  I did ask C.I., Mike and Jess (the latter two are attorneys) to make sure I understood right.

    Let me catch people up on what I'm talking about.  Darlene's being used at work.  I can't say where she works because I don't want to get her in trouble.  But, for example, recently her eight hours of work a day turned into nine hours.  Why?  They are getting a new phone system and weren't allowed to go to lunch.  

    Instead, the lunch hour was supposed to be spent being trained on the phones.  "Don't worry, we're providing pizza!" was the way they worded it in the e-mail (that's not a direct quote, again, I don't want to get her in trouble at work).  So there was one group that went first for an hour -- group A -- and one group that went an hour later -- group B.  

    There's a problem right there.  Pizza that's been left out for an hour before the second group shows up for training?

    That's not lunch.  Most pizza places have their cooked pizza under lamps on the buffet.  They don't leave that buffet pizza out forever.  After twenty to thirty minutes, they toss it.

    So this nonsense that they provided lunch?  They provided stale and cold pizza that had been setting out for over an hour before the second group arrived.  That's not lunch.  That's not even scraps.

    But here's the real point.  If you work just seven point five hours on the clock, they have to give you 20 minutes for lunch.  They have to.  It is illegal throughout the United States for them to make you work 7.5 hours or more in one day without giving you a minimum of 20 minutes off the clock.

    Darlene did not have time to go to the bathroom before the 'lunch' or after.  She had to wait until two and a half hours later.  

    The boss has told Darlene that it's no big deal and that they didn't make her clock out for lunch.  It is a big deal because it's illegal.  She was denied her 20 minutes off the clock -- minimum of 20 minutes.  He broke the law and, Darlene, you can file a complaint on this.  What he did was illegal and you should have some lists of rules posted in a break room at your work that notes this rule of 20 minutes for lunch (off the clock) once you hit 7.5 hours.

    "Media: Distortions" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):

    So, yes, we can understand fans being upset that WALLS might be her final studio album -- what a waste to go out on.  And LIVE AT THE BON SOIR said fans were really just fed up at this point -- it only charted in the US and it only made it to 150 on the sales chart -- again, her lowest charting album** (singing -- THE OWL & THE PUSSYCAT doesn't count, she doesn't sing a song on that soundtrack).


    It's got to be very depressing that this might be how the career ends.  Her only real success in the last years has been 2021's RELEASE ME 2 -- and that was an archive collection of songs she'd recorded from the sixties up until 2014 -- songs she'd recorded but didn't want released in real time.  

    "So this is how it all ends?"

    That would be a very depressing ending.


    But it doesn't have to be that way.  Is Barbra an actress who sings or a singer who acts?  That's been a question asked since she first started recording.  And one reason that's asked is because Barbra acts out her songs.  She did that originally, she's stated, because she wanted to be an actress and she couldn't get cast in roles so she could go onstage and turn every song into an act.

    She can still do that and she can do it regardless of range. She is a powerful singer and, yes, her range and her ability to hold notes forever added to her glory and legend.  But she is a powerful singer even with a limited range.  Remember, Judy Garland had a limited range -- she sang like a child and that's not intended as an insult.  Most people grow out of that range but she never did and still did amazing work as a singer.


    Barbra was probably the greatest singer there was in popular music in 1963 and it's a shame that LIVE AT BON SOIR can't testify to that. Don't count on any HUNGRY I recording testifying to that later on. Barbra at The Hungry I was not her at her best.  She was good and the crowd loved her but things had already changed vocally.

    Barbra as she moved towards San Francisco (and The Hungry I) was experiencing a new problem that hadn't plauged  her when she started singing at cabarets and clubs in NYC in 1960 or later when she went on the road or even later when she was performing nightly in I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE on Broadway.  She was losing her voice.

    In San Francisco, she sought the help of Judy Davis who has saved many artists (including The Mamas and the Papas) with various lessons and techniques she created after listening to how they produced music.  Barbra continued singing because of Judy Davis and, rare for Barbra, she actually has repeatedly given Judy credit publicly over the years.  (She is notorious for grabbing credit unearned and also for disappearing people who have helped her along the way.)  


    What Judy did was give Barbra a voice.  It wasn't the voice she had before.  


    "Keening."  That's how some dismissed that early singing voice.  Others thought it was overly dramatic.  When Bob Dylan spent some time studying singing late in his career and decided to try out what he'd learned (listen to NASHVILLE SKYLINE) he lied that the change was due to the fact that he stopped smoking. Barbra likes to put out that she decided to stop being so dramatic in her singing.  No, her voice stopped and then she stopped.  

    Judy couldn't give her back the voice she had.  The closest you hear that voice in her recordings after 1963 is when she sings softly -- such as on "As Time Goes By" in both her recording for THE THIRD ALBUM and for the film WHAT'S UP DOC? -- she could no longer hits those notes except when singing softly.

    Judy brought her voice down -- made it darker.  We're not talking notes, we're talking placement.  It became more and more centered in the chest.   1965's TV soundtrack special MY NAME IS BARBRA shows you what Barbra sounds like without the keening (with the keening, she distorts on LIVE AT THE BON SOIR -- again that's recorded in 1963).  Without the keening and without substituting what Judy taught her to rely on instead.  


    She's using her chest as the main resonator.  For the keening, she was especially hitting the resonators in her nos and the skull area above her eyebrows.  (If you're new to resonators, your face has many -- including the cheekbone area under the eyes.  The higher resonators you use, the more bright your voice sounds.)  She also used the top of the mouth as a resonator in keening.  

    Though most people never bought Dylan's lie about his voice changing when he stopped smoking (because, among other things, lifelong smoker Bob Dylan has never really quit or stopped), they have bought the notion that Barbra matured as an artist and wanted to be less dramatic so that's what changed her voice.  No.  After The Hungry Eye and studying with Judy, Barbra returned to the recording studio in June of 1963 to finish THE SECOND BARBRA STREISAND ALBUM (she'd started recording it in February) and there were problems.  She couldn't do the "keening" in the studio the way she had been.  It would make her voice go rough.  She'd try to do it repeatedly and nail it for a few tracks.  But, more often than not, she'd have to resort to the new techniques Judy taught her.  That's why June was multiple dates and February was only one day in the studio.  That's also why engineer Frank Laico had so many problems with her.  He even told her they did fine on the previous album together so stop worrying -- but what had her worried were her vocals because she knew she wanted to do and she couldn't do it with her voice anymore -- at least not for long periods.  The songs that made the album were the ones she could do the keening on.  She tried "It Had To Be You" in keening and couldn't pull it off.  She then tried it using Judy's techniques but she didn't like the way her voice sounded on that.  She would work on her signing -- the things Judy taught her and the things she taught herself so that six months later she was comfortable enough to try "It Had To Be You" in the studio again and to do it with her new skills and produce a recording she was proud of (it's on THE THIRD ALBUM).

    The point to that?  Barbra's reshaped her voice before.  She can do it again.  Any losses created by the aging process that effects everyone, does not rob her of her ability to bring a song to life.  Or as Joni Mitchell wrote and sang, "Well something's lost but something's gained in living every day."  And that's true of Joni's voice.  It's not what it was in the 1960s or the 1970s.  But she can deliver a song and still move you.  That's probably the case with Barbra as well.  At least we hope so because what's been released in the last eight or so years has been an embarrassment and her legacy needs something far better to go out on.

    I loved their piece this week -- which does cover more than Barbra's singing.  But I just couldn't figure out what to excerpt.  That's what I wanted to excerpt -- what I did above -- but Jim's always going on noting (rightly) that most people go THIRD solely for Ava and C.I.'s weekly piece.  I didn't want to have too much excerpted for that reason but it's now Thursday and Jim says it's shot past 300,000 views at some point on Tuesday.  

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

    Thursday, September 21, 2023.  Two US senators make clear the United States really isn't their focus, MOVEON joins the efforts to stop book banning, veterans suicides, and much more.

    We have a lot of idiots in the country so it's no surprise that we also have them in Congress.  No, i'm not talking about the hate merchants, just the deeply stupid.  Dan De Luce (NBC NEWS) reports:

    Two U.S. senators are urging the Biden administration to appeal to the Iraqi government to help secure the release of a Princeton University graduate student believed to have been abducted by an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq six months ago.

    In a letter obtained by NBC News, Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, who both represent New Jersey, home to Princeton, conveyed their “grave concern” about Elizabeth Tsurkov’s plight in their appeal to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

    They called on the administration “to use our close and abiding relationship with Iraq to raise Elizabeth’s abduction and call for her release at every opportunity and level.”

    Oh, a Princeton graduate student, let's drop everything for the non-citizen then.  Did she shop at COSTCO too?

    Reality, she's probablya  spy for either Russia or Israel.  And those are the two countries that she's a citizen of.  Let her countries make whatever case needs to be made.  She is not a US citizen.

    This week, Joe Biden is supposed to meet face-to-face with Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani -- the prime minister of Iraq who NBC NEWS didn't see fit to name in their article.  This will the first face-to-face meeting of the two if it takes place.  It will not be an all day meeting.  It will be quick.  Hopefully there will be a photo op with the three or so questions they allow now at a photo op.  

    There is not time to address everything.

    She is not a US priority.  A priority for the health of Iraq is Kirkuk.  The US should have seen that issue resolved back in 2007 -- per the Iraqi Constitution.  Just as Brookings predicted, playing kick the can only made things worse. 

    It needs to be resolved and the US helped create the problem so that's an area the US needs to focus on.  

    With climate change taking place, I wish that would be focused on.  With some Iraqi legislators trying to make being gay a crime -- and a death penalty crime -- I wish that would be focused on.

    But it is their first meeting and for the good of all of Iraq, the Kirkuk issue is probably the one to focus on.  

    And pretend for a moment that this was an American citizen?  By all means, she would need to be discussed but even then you would have to be very careful.  "We are distressed over the kidnapping of Diane . . ."  Worded wrongly, it quickly becomes in the prime minister's head, "Joe Biden just accused me of kidnapping?  Me?"  

    The woman is not an American citizen.

    If Cory Booker is suddenly interested in women, I suggest he find one for himself.  Yeah, I went there.  And, Bob, you've had enough scandals involving foreign countries.  You've had more than enough.  As you enter what is probably your last years in office, you don't need to be advocating for citizens of other countries with your long history of being investigated for corruption.  And it's not just ancient history.  As NBC NEWS reported yesterday.

    As Matt Friedman (POLITICO) reported last month, "shady" is the term that best describes your career in Congress:

    About every 10 years, like clockwork, news articles pop up reminding New Jerseyans about that time in the early 1980s when Bob Menendez donned a bulletproof vest to testify against his former mentor at a federal corruption trial.

    The story, when told by Menendez’s allies, is intended to portray the senator as a hardscrabble Hudson County politician who did what’s right in the face of the powerful Democratic machine — the same machine that nurtured him and launched his career.

    It’s come up again and again because, well, Menendez has found himself the subject of similar investigations again and again — about once every decade. It happened in the 2000s, the 2010s, and it’s happening now.

    It says something good that out of **100** US senators, only two were willing to waste time and energy on an issue that has nothing to do with the United States.  If Israel and Russia want to save their citizen, then they can step up to the plate and work on that issue.  Again, if Joe and Mohammed do have the meeting this week, it will be a brief meeting.  They will have to be formally introduced, make some small talk to establish something of a bond.  There will be no time for a wish list from either of the two.  They will probably only address one key issue.  And by address, I mean mention in passing.  Then they may or may not do a photo op.  

    The two senators look like they were paid off to raise this issue.  Maybe in the future, Cory, don't co-sign with someone who has a shady reputation.  

    Again, there are very serious issues to address and there's not time for something as silly as an idiot who chose to go to Iraq and make a spectacle of herself.  There was no reason for that -- unless she's a spy.  

    Again, Iraq wants to institute the death penalty for the LGBTQ+ community, Cardinal Luis Sako has been stripped of his authority in Iraq (besides the importance to Iraq, Sako's Catholic and Joe's Catholic so it's a natural issue for Joe), Kuwait is rightly upset the their border in place with Iraq has just been tossed aside by Iraq's court, the list of worthy topics is endless.  Some little idiot who wants to travel to Iraq despite the long post-invasion history of the country's animosity to Jewish people?  She's not a US citizen, her countries need to make her case.  

    If you're not getting it, The Gulf Cooperation Council issued the following this week:

     GCC Foreign Ministers issue statement after meeting in New York

    18 September 2023.

    The Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, have called on the Republic of Iraq, to take seriand urgent steps to address the negative effects of developments over the Khor Abdullah maritime agreement.

    The Ministers made the call in a statement following a meeting held on Sunday, at the headquarters of the Permanent Delegation of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations in New York. The meeting discussed a ruling of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court issued on Monday and published on Thursday.

    The statement says the ruling is based on inaccurate, out of context, historical reasoning regarding the agreement concluded in 2012 between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Iraq about the regulation of maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah.

    The statement says the agreement was ratified by Iraq in 2013 and was deposited with the United Nations.

    The Ministerial Council said that these developments do not serve relations with the GCC countries, and violate international charters, treaties and agreements, including UN Security Council Resolution 833.

    In yesterday's snapshot, we note this body's joint-statement with the US State Dept.  This may be minor to some but it's big news in Iraq and Kuwait.  And it's a lot more important than someone who stupidly made the choice to go into Iraq and then was such a spectacle that she was kidnapped by a group believing she was a spy for Israel.  

    We noted climate change.  ALJAZEERA has a video report, "Iraq's Water Wars Pt. 1," and they note:

    Iraq is running out of water. It is the fifth most vulnerable nation to the impact of climate change, according to the United Nations. Temperatures have risen by more than 2.5 degrees Celsius (36.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since the end of the 19th century, double the global average. The impact has been particularly visible in the last two years. Water levels in the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have dropped by half. Iraq’s government blames upstream water use by its neighbours as the primary culprit but has been criticised for not taking any steps at climate mitigation or adaptation strategies. And many Iraqis say oil industry water use is just exacerbating the problem.

    Again, there are real issues to address and, again, that woman has citizenship in two countries and those two countries are the ones who need to be making appeals, not the US government.

    Picking up from yesterday about Moms For Bigotry and others attempt to ban books, LGBTQ NATION notes:

    Beloved actor and LGBTQ+ ally LeVar Burton -- and over 175 other artists and authors -- have signed an open letter encouraging people to fight back against anti-LGBTQ+ book bans that are sweeping the nation.

    “Far-right politicians like Ron DeSantis are championing draconian laws to ban books and the teaching of accurate multicultural American history in favor of upholding a homophobic, transphobic, and white supremacist vision of our nation,” the letter’s website, Artists Against Book Bans, reads. The website and campaign were spearheaded by the progressive political group MoveOn.

    Here's the letter:

    As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans.

    This restrictive behavior is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field. The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.

    We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans. It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. 

    We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans. As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.

    We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us.


    Abigail Disney
    Adina Porter
    Aisha Tyler
    Aja Monet
    Akilah Hughes
    Alimi Ballard
    Alysia Reiner
    Alyssa Milano
    Amanda Gorman
    Andie Freeman
    Andy Cohen
    Angie Thomas
    Ann Patchett
    AnnaSophia Robb
    Ariana Grande
    Ashly Burch
    Ava Max
    Ava Philippe
    Barbara Joosse
    Bellamy Young
    Bex Taylor-Klaus
    Bill Nye
    Billy Porter
    Brandon Dermer
    Brittany O’Grady
    Busy Philipps
    Cara Mentzel
    Cave In
    Chad Coleman
    Charlotte Clymer
    Chelsea Handler
    Chelsea Wolfe
    Chris Mosier
    Chrissie Fit
    Christie Brinkley
    Christina Michelle
    Clark Gregg
    Constance Wu
    Dan Andriano

    Dying Wish
    Elaine Hendrix
    Elizabeth Gillies
    Ellen Barkin
    Emma Roberts
    Escuela Grind
    Eve 6
    Fatimah Asghar
    Felicia Day
    Gabrielle Union
    Garden Films
    Garrett Russell
    Gouge Away
    Grace Gaustad
    Great American Ghost
    Greg Grunberg
    Guillermo del Toro
    Guy Endore-Kaiser
    Idina Menzel
    Internet Today
    J Smith-Cameron
    Jacqueline Toboni
    Jaime King
    James Isaiah Muñoz
    Jason Collins
    Jason Ritter
    Jazz Jennings
    Jeff Rosenstock
    Jesse Ferguson / Gale
    Jessica Capshaw
    Jessica Marie Garcia
    Jodi Picoult
    Joel Birch
    Joel McKinnon Miller
    John Leguizamo
    Jose Ramos
    Judd Apatow
    Judy Blume

    Kaci Bollx
    Karah Preiss
    Kathy Najimy
    Katie Rich
    Kay Cannon
    Kayleigh Goldsworthy
    Kelly McCreary
    Kelly Zutrau
    Kevin Kruse
    Knocked Loose
    Kristin Bauer
    Layne Ihde Author
    Leigh Bardugo
    LeVar Burton
    Lexi Underwood
    Loung Ung
    Luvvie Ajayi Jones
    Madelyn Cline
    Maia Kobabe
    Margaret Atwood
    Margaret Cho
    Mark Mackillop
    Mark Ruffalo
    Meena Harris
    Michael Ian Black
    Michael Kelly
    Michael Lapinski
    Muggytone Productions
    Natasha Lyonne
    Natasha Rothwell
    Nathan Meckel
    Nick Adams
    Nicolas Hosford
    Nik Dodani
    Nikki Giovanni
    Old Man Gloom
    Padma Lakshmi
    Patton Oswalt
    Pete Souza
    Piper Perabo
    Raquel Willis

    Rob Ackroyd
    Rob Corddry
    Rob Reiner
    Robbie Morris
    Ron Perlman
    Roxane Gay
    Sadie Dupuis
    Samantha Ronson
    Sandra Cisneros
    Sarah Paulson
    Sarah Sophie Flicker
    Sedona Prince LLC
    Shannon Downey (BACS)
    Sharon Stone
    Sheila B.
    Simone Norman
    Sofia Warren
    Sophia Bush
    Spencer Ackerman
    Spencer Compton
    Steven Pasquale
    Stick To Your Guns
    Storefront Church
    Stray From The Path
    SuburbanCrunchyGirl Andie Freeman
    Sunny Hostin
    Tara Strong
    The Callous Daoboys
    The Cybertronic Spree
    Tim Guinee
    Torrey DeVitto
    Trey Bruce
    Two Minutes To Late Night
    Ue3 Promotions
    War On Women
    Zaria Forman
    Zoe Lister-Jones
    Zooey Deschanel

    A report from the Florida Department of Education (DOE) has revealed that approximately 300 books were removed from schools across Florida during the 2022-2023 school year. Many of the books included LGBTQ+ content or characters, including This Books is Gay by Juno Dawson, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, The Family Book by Todd Parr, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, and Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings.

    Despite all of this, Florida DOE spokesperson Caily Myers told NBC News that”Florida does not ban books.” 

    It's not just about banning books.  It's banning knowledge and context and ideas because heaven forbid anyone should ever actually think. That's made obvious by the response to a talk by Marc Tyler Nobleman.  For those who don't know, he is the author of BILL THE BOY WONDER: THE SECRET CO-CREATOR OF BATMAN, a biography of Bill Finger who, along with Bob Kane, created Batman.  You can see him in the HULU documentary BATMAN & BILL.  Some students in Atlanta were able to see him briefly until the school decided that Marc couldn't mention that Bill Finger had a gay son.  AP reports:

    “We’re long past the point where we should be policing people talking about who they love,” Nobleman said in a telephone interview. “And that’s what I’m hoping will happen in this community.”

    State laws restricting talk of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools have proliferated in recent years, but the clash with Nobleman shows schools may be limiting such discussions even in states like Georgia that haven’t officially banned them. Some proponents of broader laws giving parents more control over schools argue they extend to discussion of sex and gender even if the statutes don’t explicitly cover them.

    They want to disappear LGBTQ+ people.  This had nothing to do with any sexual act.  It was noting that the co-creator had a gay son.  The same basic family background you'd provide on anyone.  

    The schools spokesperson insists that she and the school weren't bothered by "gay" but that they were worried that the use of the term might result in questions.

    Maybe ones like, "Mr. Nobleman, do you think our school spokesperson is a homophobe?  And, if so, what should we do about it?"

    Can we ponder these parents for a second?  They're lying hypocrites who falsely scream 'groomers.'  So you think they're not already talking to their children about LGBTQ+ people?  You know they are.  But they're lying and spreading their hate and can't risk the kids realizing that at school.

    Take a moment and grasp how much harder the Civil Rights era would have been if hate merchants had been allowed to hide behind religion (some tried) to excuse their racism.  This is not what this country is supposed to be.  These hate merchants need to be sent packing.  

    In other news that you can't mention in Forsyth County schools, AP reports:

    The Pentagon began a new effort Wednesday to contact former service members who may have been forced out of the military and deprived of years of benefits due to policies targeting their sexual orientation, starting with those who served under “Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

    Under DADT, which was enacted in 1994 by President Bill Clinton and in effect until 2011, service members who had other than heterosexual orientation could serve — as long as they kept it quiet. That led to years of discrimination, undue pressure, discharges and lost benefits.

    Under DADT and previous military policies forbidding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer personnel from serving, at least 32,837 service members since 1980 were forced out of the military for their sexual orientation, according to Department of Defense data.

    More than 2,000 of those service members received general, other than honorable, or unknown discharge characterizations "that may have denied them access to veterans benefits, like home loans, health care, GI Bill tuition assistance and even some government jobs," Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said.

    So get the word out -- unless you work at Forsyth County schools because, you know, questions.

    Out gay Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and other Congress members marked the 12th anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) — the 1994 law that banned gay and bisexual service members from serving in the military — by proposing a commission to study the impacts that DADT had on queer and non-queer military members.

    The proposal, introduced on Wednesday, coincides with an announcement by the Department of Defense (DOD) to contact military members who were forced out under the discriminatory policies and help update their discharge documents in order to restore their access to benefits that they lost.

    Takano’s proposal, called the “Commission on Equity and Reconciliation in the Uniformed Services Act,” would create a 15-person commission to study past Department of Defense (DOD) actions “policing sexual orientation and gender identity in the uniformed services, from the beginning of World War II and onward.” The commission would also gather testimony and hold hearings on the effects these policies had on discharged soldiers’ physical, mental, psychological, financial, and professional well-being, including their ability to access military benefits. 

     We'll wind down with this from US Senator Bill Cassidy's office:

    (Click here to download and here to watch on YouTube.)


    WASHINGTON  U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) grilled the Executive Director for Suicide Prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Matthew Miller, after an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report found that a 2021 veteran suicide was improperly handled. The report also found that VA employees interfered with the OIG investigation into the death. VA responded to the OIG findings by moving the executive director of the VCL to a senior position in the secretary’s office.


    “We’ve passed accountability measures for people who don’t do their job,” said Dr. Cassidy. “And it sounds like interfering with an investigation of a suicide, which may have been inappropriately handled on a veterans’ crisis line, is incompetence.”


    “It sounds like somebody was asleep at the wheel,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Now the question is was it just incompetence or was it just a cover-up.”


    After being stonewalled by Miller, Cassidy called for VA officials to be held accountable.


    “That veteran was ill-served, and there was as best as I can tell, an attempt not to hold people accountable,” concluded Dr. Cassidy. “And my gosh, that is a pattern.”



    The OIG report published on September 14th found that the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) staff failed to take appropriate action with a veteran who died by suicide the same night he contacted the VCL. The VCL leadership then interfered with the OIG investigation, coaching staff prior to speaking with the OIG, according to the report.


    The OIG also uncovered systemic issues, lack of standard operating procedures and policies for the VCL, and overall inadequate oversight. The report also discovered that the VCL Director for Quality and Training acted inappropriately and provided advice and information to the VCL responder prior to interviews with the OIG that potentially compromised the candidness of the interview.


    This summer, Cassidy led the passage of a congressional resolution to support veterans struggling with mental health challenges.


    Last year, the Senate unanimously passed Cassidy’s Solid Start Act to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Solid Start program to contact every veteran three times by phone in the first year after they leave active duty. The program helps connect veterans with VA programs and benefits, including mental health resources.


    Cassidy also introduced the Mental Health Reform Reauthorization Act of 2022 to reauthorize and improve Cassidy’s historic 2016 mental health reform package.


    The following sites updated: